20 Dec 2011

We spent the entire day at sea today, navigating across the Drake Passage once again.  Amundsen continued to bless us with an amazingly calm Passage.  Here are a few facts about the Drake Passage.  Regarded as the roughest sea passage in the world, the Drake Passage is the 500 mile wide stretch of water between Cape Horn and Livingston Island and is the shortest crossing from Antarctica to the rest of the world’s land.  There is no significant land anywhere around the world at the latitudes of the Drake Passage, which is important to the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.  The current carries an enormous volume of water (about 600 times the flow of the Amazon River) through the Passage, and around Antarctica.  From that brief glimpse, you can certainly understand why the Passage can be so rough, and is dreaded by Antarctic voyagers.

Despite the day at sea, we were not idle.  We returned our rented boots at 11:00, and got a “receipt” so that the boot deposit is refunded to us.  The Ship to Shore rental program is definitely the way to go.  The boots, known as bogs (name of the manufacturer) were waiting in our suite when we boarded.  A Ship to Shore representative is on board in Ushuaia, in case they need to be exchanged for a different size.  Both pairs looked brand new – spotlessly clean, with excellent treads.  The boots weigh about 6 pounds per pair, and are huge – it was bad enough lugging around the cold weather gear without the added weight of the boots!  Not to mention, what the heck would we do with them afterward, sell them on ebay?!  No, thank you very much!

In this blog, we have tried to concentrate on the overall expedition experience, and haven’t focused too much on the food.  But, this record would not be complete without some mention of the fabulous, lovely, delicious meals.  Breakfast, with cooked to order eggs, an amazing array of pastries, cereals, and fresh fruit (even after 10 days at sea!!); lunch, with a carvery, and hot and cold buffet that change everyday; and, dinner with five star quality dining, accompanied by beautiful wines – all make you wish you could package everyone up, and take them home with you!  Mark wanted to add some specific comments on the food, “meat, meat and of course, another course of meat” – nothing more needs to be said.

One specific wine that we have to note is the white wine at lunch today – it is called “The Crusher” and is a chardonnay produced by Wilson Winery in Clarksburg, CA.  For those of you that do not know, Wilson is my family name on my mother’s side.  We have had the pleasure of visiting this winery a couple of years ago, with my mother and my uncle.

This afternoon, the sun was shining, so we sat out on the aft deck, and enjoyed watching the birds following the ship.  The air was a little chilly, but the sun was warm, and combined with the motion of the ship, just about lulled us to sleep.

The final briefing and recap was at 5:00 – it was time for a little humor on the part of the Expedition Team.  They discussed the Beaufort scale (to measure wind), and then suggested an alternate scale, of their own devising, based on the pallor of the passenger’s skin.  Finally, Peter showed a funny video about how the albatross was named.  It was all good fun!

After the briefing, we had an hour to prepare for the Captain’s farewell cocktail party and dinner.  We were invited to dine with Robin West, the Expedition Leader, and his wife, Jarda Versloot, the Assistant Expedition Leader.  (A funny note – when Yarda introduced herself on the first evening, she said that the pronunciation of her name was Yada, as in yada, yada, yada.  It was really funny, but is truly the way her name is said).  Completing the table were two gentlemen from Sydney, Australia.  Both work in the airline industry – one for Quantas, and the other for Virgin.  The mix made for great conversation.

Robin and Jarda recently completed a self drive safari through Namibia and Botswana – very similar to the one we did during our around the world trip.  There was much comparing of notes and they seemed to have been just as excited by the safari as we were.

Following dinner, we made our way to the Panorama Lounge to enjoy the music of Alfredo.  He is truly a talented musician, and manages to play the exactly perfect mix of music. Alfredo is the official musician of the ship, so when an impromptu cocktail party was called for on the aft deck at Snow Hill Island, within minutes Alfredo had his electric piano set up outside and was ready to go.  He moves his equipment up to the theatre for the Captain’s receptions and into the dining room for dinner.   Also, every evening he can be found at his piano in the Panorama Lounge, where he is sometimes joined for a couple of numbers by the bar staff.

To close the blog today, we offer the following poem, as printed in today’s Silversea Expeditions Chronicles:

When the cabin portholes are dark and green
because of the seas outside,
and the ship goes wop, with a wiggle between
and the steward falls into the soup tureen
and the trunks begin to slide
and Nanny lies on the floor in a heap
and Mummy tells you to “let her sleep”
and you aren’t waked, or washed, or dressed
why then you will know, if you haven’t guessed
that you are 60* south and 60* west

By Joanne Stone – modified from a Rudyard Kipling poem

Leave a Reply